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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

The Fascinations of Italy

The Fascinations of Italy.

Turning to other parts of the Mediterranean shores, Italy is by far the most fascinating; but I would recommend intending visitors to that land, with the fatal gift of beauty, to enter it from the north, either by way of Switzerland or the Riviera. The passes from Switzerland, such as the St Gothard, the Splugen, and the Stelvio, from the Tyrol, are all replete with grand and romantic scenery, which is nearly entirely lost by travellers who pass under the page 61 Alps by railway. To see Italy in all its captivating beauty one must endure a little heat in May and June, when the vines and trees are in leaf, and flowers are in glorious profusion; for even in the south of Italy cold winds prevail in spring. In the month of March I have seen snow covering Mount Vesuvius and falling in the streets of Naples; but in April and May, when our country people who spend the winter there mostly leave Italy, excursions from Naples to the volcano, to the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Castel-a-Mare, Sorrento, and Amalfi afford the most interesting and enchanting views of land and water which can be found in all the world, and once seen can never be forgotten. The great cities of Italy and their monuments of ancient and modern architecture, the museums, palaces, and galleries of paintings and sculpture, so often described, are truly magnificent; and even those who, like myself, have little knowledge of the rules of art, the wonderful works of the great masters displayed in the collections at Rome, Florence, and other cities of Italy, as well as those of Madrid and Seville in Spain, the Louvre in Paris, and the Hermitage Palace at St Petersburg, are delightfully impressive and instructive. At the same time I do not by any means undervalue the pleasing and attractive works of our highly gifted British artists, which adorn the walls of South Kensington Museum, and those of the new and elegant page 62 building which Mr Tate has so munificently given to the nation, as well as the pictures by renowned Scottish artists to be seen in the galleries of Edinburgh.